The ideal first aid kit for dogs should include items that the dog owner feels comfortable using. Some dog owners are trained in first aid and can make their kits more elaborate.
First Aid Kit for Dogs
One at a time, each dog/handler team climbed onto the rubble pile in search of a “trapped person.” It was disaster-training month for our K-9 SAR unit. With all safety precautions taken, no one expected to get hurt. But, as Tom and Sparky left the rubble pile, Tom noticed that Sparky was limping. Sparky had a deep cut in his pad. The EMTs on our unit got the K-9 first aid kit to dress Sparky’s wound until Tom could get Sparky to the veterinarian. Fortunately, the first aid kit had been packed with the correct items.
The ideal first aid kit for dogs should include items that the dog owner feels comfortable using. Some dog owners are trained in first aid and can make their kits more elaborate. But, for the average dog owner, the following list will make an adequate first aid kit:
- Three rolls of three-inch gauze
- Gauze pads, a variety of sizes is ideal
- Adhesive tape (nonstick)
- Self-clinging wrap
- Antibiotic salve
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Alcohol and alcohol wipes
- Liquid diphenhydramine elixier (Benedryl)
- Eye wash liquid or sterile water
- Cotton balls
- Paper Towels
- Bath towels
- Large plastic garbage bags
- Veterinarian contact information, including emergency clinics and poison control numbers
In addition to these items, a blanket or large towel can be used as a stretcher to transport an injured dog. Empty, cleaned, two-liter soda bottles can be filled with warm or cold water to warm a cold animal or cool an overheated animal. Cold water also helps to reduce swelling. If these extra items cannot fit into the first aid kit, they can be kept nearby for easy access.
The first aid kit items should be stored in an easy to open, transportable box that has a handle. Plastic tackle or toolboxes work well. They have compartments or trays that help organize the first aid items. Clearly label the box “Dog First Aid Kit”.
For items that have a shelf life, be sure to date the item with a permanent pen and replace the item before it expires. Marking the item this way will serve as a reminder to check the date, as well as make it easy to spot.
If an emergency should occur where there’s more than one person on site, let the person most trained in first aid handle dressing injuries. This is especially true if the dog’s owner is too emotional to make the correct decisions. Keep in mind that the purpose of administering first aid is to stabilize the dog until he can be taken to the veterinarian. If the incident occurs away from home (beyond traveling distance to your regular veterinarian), having the contact information for a local emergency veterinary clinic with you can save your dog’s life.
It’s always a good idea to take a canine first aid course. Study a book, video, or ask your veterinarian for tips. Being prepared is the first step in first aid.
Sparky was fine, although the veterinarian had to cut off part of his torn pad. Within a few weeks, he was good as new and anxious to get back to his SAR training. By being prepared, Tom was able to control the bleeding and help prevent an infection.
Susan Bulanda, MA, is a certified member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a Search and Rescue Incident Commander, and developer and instructor at the Canine Training and Management Program at Kutztown
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